Meshuggah at Mill City Nights 2/24/13

Categories: Last Night
v_pp_meshuggah_014.jpg
Courtesy of Meshuggah

Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders and Intronaut
Mill City Nights, Minneapolis
Sunday, February 24, 2013

This tour so far hasn't gone without a hitch since singer Jens Kidman fell ill to the flu for the first half of this month, Meshuggah returned to the Twin Cities in perfect health and their most stellar manifestation. Having played in town less than a year ago at First Avenue down the street in support of 2012's Koloss die hard fans of the band had a lot to be thankful for as the band pummeled through an efficient and extremely heavy sampling from the band's extensive back catalog of work.

After a couple comparatively low-key, progtastically pleasant, fusion-jazz infused sets from U.S. tour mates Intronaut and Animals As Leaders the packed house at Mill City Nights was eager and well prepared for the return of Umeå, Sweden's masters of the progressive metal form.

Wisely skipping the Oscars, the faithful fans -- decked out in various black Meshuggah hoodies, beanies and wristbands -- raised their fists shouting the name of their own spectacular metal idols, "MESH-UG-GAH!!" Meanwhile, intense pulsating lights accompanied by fiercly loud sounds of bees violently swarming gave way for the band to finally take the stage and race through Koloss' "Swarm." It was the first of a few more notable tracks the band added to their set since the first run through last year, and it showed the tight-as-ever Meshuggah have not slowed down.

Jumping through past material with "Combustion" and reaching all the way back to the break-neck "Transfixion" from 1995's Destroy Erase Improve, the band had the crowd howling along to Kidman's gutteral vocals. His voice complimented perfectly with brilliant red lights and the heavy, thick, groove-laden, throbbing riffs evident in all of Meshuggah's signature sound.

As the sensory overload would only briefly come to a stop, there was little time and exchange between Kidman and the swirling mass of the audience. "Hey, Are you alright?" he asked without barely taking a breath. As if not entirely caring one way or another he simpled shrugged and responded with, "Sure," as Meshuggah dove back into the wallop of rapid fire riffs of "Obzen" and another heavy dose from Koloss, the sludgy "Behind the Sun," "Do Not Look Down" and "The Hurt that Finds You First." All of which carried the first half of the set to a fever pitch of atmospheric guitar leads and drummer Tomas Haake's mind-boggling, machine gun-like, grooving rhythm.

With such intensity to their music, after leaving the stage for a quick refresh, the light show took over. The band reprised from their last visit the suite of sorts from their 2005 LP, Catch Thirtythree as the strains of "Mind's Mirrors" welcomed Meshuggah back out with cheers for each cadence of the lengthy "In Death - Is Life", "In Death - Is Death" and "Shed."

"You doing good?! You're not bored or anything are you?" Kidman asked the crowd, who at this point were doing very well with Meshuggah extreme music, "See if you like this one."

Bathed in green lights, dark chords and the continued heavy wall of sound the heat in the room rose with the space-aged, desolate guitar melodies and pounding rhythms providing welcomed whiplash to the enraptured crowd during "Bleed" and the band's anticipated masterpiece "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Give It Motion."

Almost completely exhausting the audience, Meshuggah wrapped things up with 2002's "Straws Pulled At Random" and "Dancers to a Discordant System" for the encore leaving the sweat soaked and depleted audience altogether satisfied.

Critic's Bias: This being my third time seeing Meshuggah, I continually champion this band as one of the more important artists of our time. They also are likely the singular reason most every other band making new music completely bores the piss out of me.

The Crowd: Faithful metal fans who always manage to creep up in spades whenever a real burst and treasure like Meshuggah arrive in town.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Kind of awesome they are playing 'Pump Up the Jams' by Technotronic and 'Axl F' to warm us up before Meshuggah comes out."

Random Notebook Dump: Despite the cold outside, venturing off into the quiet streets of Minneapolis on a Sunday night, the super charged energy of Meshuggah was the most perfect burst of inspiration to the start of the week. These guys can not come here often enough.

Setlist:

Swarm
Combustion
Transfixion
obZen
Behind the Sun
Do Not Look Down
The Hurt that Finds You First
I Am Colossus
Mind's Mirrors
In Death - Is Life
In Death - Is Death
Shed
Bleed
Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion
Straws Pulled at Random

Encore:
Dancers to a Discordant System


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